DUP MP Gregory Campbell has warned against a “trial by media” following the airing of an interview by Irish broadcaster RTE with a man convicted of the notorious 2009 murder of a police officer.
Brendan McConville was convicted in 2012 of carrying out the murder of the first officer killed since the formation of the PSNI, Stephen Carroll.
Constable Carroll was shot dead as he responded to a 999 call in Craigavon, Co Armagh. The dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, claimed they were responsible for the shooting at the time.
He died of a single gunshot wound to the head sustained as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended the call in the Lismore Manor area.
McConville and another man convicted of the muder, John Paul Wootton, had attempted to overturn their convictions but their appeal was dismissed at the High Court in Belfast in May 2014.
The appeal was heard in Belfast High Court in 2013 by Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Coghlin and Lord Justice Higgins.
An interview with McConville, carried out from Maghaberry Prison where he is currently serving a life sentence for the killing, was broadcast on the Irish language radio station RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta on Saturday.
In the interview, conducted over the telephone, McConville denies any involvement in the crime.
Mr Campbell said any appeal against a conviction should be taken through “due process” as he warned against a “trial by media”.
Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Campbell said: “He has gone through due process and he has been duly convicted in a court of law. Anybody that’s convicted of a serious offence, if they want to appeal there is an appeal procedure. But you don’t conduct your appeal over the airwaves of a broadcaster.
“It is not trial by media. You cannot conduct a court of law via the airwaves.”
He added: “This man is a convicted murderer by law.”
In a summary of their broadcast, a spokesperson for RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta said: “The wife and family of Brendan McConville started a campaign, Justice for the Craigavon Two, in late 2017 to have the case re-examined, and it is currently being reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.”
The spokesperson continued: “He claims that one of the key witnesses in the case was drunk and that he had eyesight difficulties which cast serious doubt on the reliability of his evidence.
“He said that the DNA of at least three others, and up to possibly 10 people, was found on a coat used in evidence against him, as well as his own. He also claims one of the key witnesses was a known liar, with the nickname ‘Walter Mitty’.”
The interview was broadcast on the ‘An tSeachtain le Máirín Ní Ghadhra’ programme at 10am on Saturday.